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Portsmouth MP and All Call Signs join forces to lobby coroners in bid to break deadlock over recording of veteran suicide

Portsmouth MP pens joint letter with city-based organisation All Call Signs to 98 coroners in bid to break deadlock over Government recording of veteran suicide

In his latest action on the matter, Local MP, Stephen Morgan is lobbying all coroners across the country requesting their expert opinion on how to progress with the recording of veteran suicide.

The need to record this data is unprecedented, some estimates suggest that 1 veteran every 5 days takes their own life, without a quantifiable record it could be much higher.

Mr Morgan has said:

“The response that I have had from the Prime Minister and the Government Minister responsible has been the same when I have asked them to implement the recording of this data, that coroners are ‘fiercely independent’ and the Governmernt cannot force them to note suicide in the veteran community.

Our armed forces personnel deserve better than for us to crumble at the first hurdle. They show untold resilience every day, the least we can do is push on this.

I along with All Call Signs will not be taking no for an answer. If the Government has said coroners are the obstacle, we will get to the root of the problem and see how it can be overcome it.”

The joint letter, sent out to all coroners across the UK, has asked for feedback on what barriers stand in the way of introducing this small change. Mr Morgan has said that he is keen to get coroners views on what beginning to record veteran suicide would mean, what barriers stand in their way and generally the implications of these changes for their profession.

Mr Morgan said:

“The goal here could not be simpler, get coroners on board with this small change that would have hugely positive effects for our armed forces community. There is wide spread support for this policy, from grassroots veteran organisations to the former head of the armed forces, it is undeniable that these changes would pave the way for better public services for our armed forces.  

Westminster can sometimes be a place where a lot is said and not a lot done. I want to make sure that when dealing with a case of such gravity, we see actions not words. I hope that this introductory letter to coroners is the start of a partnership that cracks the code when it comes to seeing these changes on the ground.”

Mr Morgan, along with All Call Signs, The News and other local campaigners have been making attempts to get these changes enforced for some time.

The Portsmouth MP has written to the Prime Minister several times, written to the Defence Secretary, asked the PM directly in PMQs, hosted a Westminster Hall debate and submitted countless written questions.

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City MP pitches policy idea to improve Armed Forces Covenant

Stephen Morgan MP pitches policy idea to Defence Secretary that would help Armed Forces Covenant give more teeth

The Portsmouth South MP has written to his neighbour in the north of the city, Defence Secretary Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, with a an idea that would see the current Armed Forces Covenant given more teeth, more scope and more depth.

Mr Morgan has backed a call for the introduction of an Armed Forces Ombudsman that would monitor the standards of care given by public services to our armed forces community.

Mr Morgan has said:

“In my role as an MP in the home to the Royal Navy, and on the Public Accounts Committee, I am fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with both serving personnel and veterans. When it comes to the covenant, the messages are clear, it does not go far enough, and it lacks clout. 

An ombudsman could help combat these inadequacies by introducing a regulatory body that can oversee and invigilate the standards of public services when they deal with our armed forces.

It would give these brave people a platform to raise complaints and would provide reassurances to regions where the delivery of the covenant is not up to scratch. It is the least we owe to the people who devote their lives to keeping us safe.”

Portsmouth has been given a gold standard review with regard to the delivery of their Armed Forces Covenant.

Despite this, Mr Morgan has been signposting areas where society could do more to improve the standard of service given to serving and ex serving troops. It is not the first time Mr Morgan has called on the Government to do more.

Mr Morgan added:

“For some time now, I have been calling for the covenant to be more far reaching and to include a nationwide mentoring service, to implement training not just for veterans but employers, increased investment in specialised mental health treatment, an extended transition period, and proper enforcement across the country.

The introduction of an Ombudsman to oversee the administration of the covenant would be a step in the right direction when it comes to giving it more teeth and would show that we as a nation are serious about prioritising our forces community.”

Mr Morgan’s policy proposal is to introduce an Armed Forces Ombudsman as part of wider campaign aimed at improving the wellbeing of our service personnel.

He has hosted a Westminster Hall debate on getting coroners to record veteran suicide, has written out to all coroners in the country, regularly meets with veterans’ organisations in his constituency and has written to both the PM and the Defence Secretary a number of times in relation to armed forces access to public services.

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‘Lessons must be learned’ says city MP over Portsmouth dental practice closures

Stephen Morgan MP calls NHS England bosses to Parliament to share concerns over local practice closures and dental crisis in Portsmouth

Following the news that three dental practices in Portsmouth (Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove) will be closing their doors next month, Stephen Morgan MP hosted a summit with NHS England to get to the bottom of the problem. The action follows writing to both the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England’s Chief Executive about the crisis in dental services for Portsmouth people.

The meeting, attended by the Regional Director of NHS England and dental commissioner, sought to understand the reasons for the closures, raise concerns over how services are set up and seek assurances that no patient in Portsmouth will lose out on vital treatment. The MP also probed about replacement services and when these will be provided in the city.

Following the urgent summit Mr Morgan said:

“The conversations with NHS England are about two things. Ensuring Portsmouth people affected by these failures are not left without access to oral healthcare and identifying the structural shortcomings in NHS Dentistry that allowed this to take place.

NHS England have provided assurances that patients currently receiving treatment or have work that remains outstanding, will finish their treatment.

I will be continuing discussions with the representatives who attended the summit to ensure that this is the case and to relay thoughts and concerns of constituents who continue to be affected.”

Another concern at the summit was the lack of communication with the community and key stakeholders. On this, the Portsmouth MP said:

“With not one, not two, but three practices closing, I shared concerns that Portsmouth people shouldn’t have heard about the company pulling out of our city via the media.

NHS England were made aware of these closures in April, I was regrettably not informed until June and therefore much time was wasted to support our community.

Lessons must be learned from our experience in Portsmouth. I am assured NHS England now recognise this. They cannot allow this to happen again and it is important they continue to be held to account for this.

I will continue to take action in Parliament to protect dental services in our city and stand up for residents affected. We must see improvements for patients in the future so I will be keeping a close eye on developments”.

The Portsmouth MP has written about the important matter to the Department of Health and Social Care, raised concerns in the House of Commons, as well as tabled a series of questions to Ministers. It is hoped a Westminster Hall debate will be secured to discuss the future of dentistry in Portsmouth.

The MP has also arranged meetings with Healthwatch representatives and the British Dental Association.

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‘The Time Is Now’ – Portsmouth MP and local activists come together to protect our planet

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has spent time with local climate activists in Westminster as part of the nationwide lobbying effort, The Time Is Now.

The meeting provided people from Portsmouth with the opportunity to discuss their major climate concerns with their local MP and hear about the work being conducted by Mr Morgan in Parliament.

Mr Morgan has said:

This country-wide campaign to keep climate change at the forefront of the Westminster political agenda was an excellent opportunity for local people to have their voice heard by Parliamentarians.

I always relish the opportunity to meet with local activists to discuss the environmental issues that most concern them and explain what work I am doing in Parliament on the matter.

This is undoubtably the most urgent and significant issue faced not just by the UK, but the world. It is essential that politicians reflect this in their work and it is inspiring to see many people take to our streets in to call for more comprehensive action”

Thousands of protestors descended on Westminster as part of The Time Is Now to meet with local MPs. The event culminated in attendees setting off their phone alarms in synchrony to hit the message home that the clock is ticking when it comes to climate change. 

Stephen Morgan MP, since his election, has been advocating for more comprehensive and binding legislative measures when it comes to tackling climate change both locally and nationally. 

Mr Morgan has said:

“Following action from the Labour Party, Parliament voted in favour of declaring a climate change emergency. It is deeply concerning that the Government has still not ratified this and has failed to take action commensurate to the size of the crisis we now face.

I hope that the inspiring direct action demonstrated by Portsmouth activists and others at The Time Is Now helps to prompt the currently complacent and inactive Government into moving forward with implementing climate change legislation. “

Today’s meetings with local activists are part long running support for initiatives that tackle the climate emergency. 

Mr Morgan regularly hosts meetings with organisations such as Friends of the Earth, has submitted a steady stream of written questions on the matter, was part of the Labour Group that declared a climate emergency at local authority level and yesterday pushed the prospective PM, Jeremy Hunt, in his capacity as Foreign Secreatry about what more can be done to bolster international cooperation on tackling climate change.  

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Portsmouth MP presses prospective PM over Government lack of action on climate change

Portsmouth MP presses prospective PM over Government lack of action when it comes to Climate Change

Ahead of the mass lobby on climate change set to take place this Wednesday, Stephen Morgan MP has pressed a prospective Prime Minister over tackling environmental degradation through international cooperation.

The questions posed to the Secretary of State during Foreign and Commonwealth questions in the House of Commons sought to promote the need for the Government to declare a ‘Climate Change Emergency’ and keep the nation’s most significant matter at the forefront of the Westminster agenda.

Following his appearance in the chamber, Mr Morgan said:

“Climate Change is the most pressing, severe and universally damaging issue faced by the world. The Government are not treating it with proportionate level of care and urgency. 

Labour are leading the charge on tackling this crisis and through an Opposition Day Debate have already managed to push Parliament to vote in favour of declaring a Climate Change Emergency, yet the Government still has not acted.

In Portsmouth, it was the Labour Group taking the reins and getting the council to finally realise the emergency that we are currently in by pioneering the climate change emergency motion.

The commitments that have been made by Government are too little and too reductive, I will continue to push for urgent action.

I was hoping the potential future Prime Minister, responding to me today, may have shown leadership qualities in his response. However, what we got was a refusal to take ownership of the issue and unjustified flattery of his cabinet colleagues. “

In one of the recent meetings with Friends of the Earth, Mr Morgan discussed the issue of offshore plastic waste and the implications that this has for his city, something that he raised separately with the Secretary of State.

Mr Morgan has said:

“Portsmouth, more than most cities, must pay close attention to how we look after our oceans.

We know that Britain does not have the facilities or infrastructure to process large portions of our own plastic waste, but we have a responsibility to ensure that those who can do so with the diligence and respect for the environment.

The ban on plastic exports to China has seen the UK offloading its waste to nations with questionable records on marine pollution meaning that thousands of tons of plastic finds its way into our precious oceans.

This is not acceptable. We must see efforts across all Government departments to take responsibility for our own waste and where it ends up. Ultimately, pollution does not respect borders and Government policy should acknowledge that”.

The Portsmouth MP’s actions in the chamber are a small part of a wider campaign to see UK emissions reduced and greater prominence given to climate change issues in Parliament. 

On the 26 June, Mr Morgan will be joining the many thousands of people descending on Westminster as part of The Time Is Now mass lobby for climate change in a bid provoke a proportionate reaction from the currently complacent Government.

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‘Aim high, work hard and you will achieve’ says Fratton-born MP launching new local awards

Fratton Big Local and Stephen Morgan MP jointly launch a bid to recognise ward-wide talent

Stephen Morgan MP, who was born and raised in Fratton and attended local schools, has co-created with Fratton Big Local, the first-ever ‘Inspiring Fratton’ awards. The awards, which seek to celebrate the achievements of people within the Fratton area, dictate that nominees must either work or live in the ward. 

Since being elected the MP has been visiting local schools in the ward and supporting the Fratton Big Local, an initiative backed by £1m of Big Lottery funding to improve life for all in the area.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“As someone who was born and raised in Fratton, I know that there are certain people in the community who go out of their way to enrich their local area, day in day out.

These are the people that make Fratton not just a place to live, but a place to call home. From inspiring teachers to budding sportspeople, these are the individuals who make Fratton a place in Portsmouth to be proud of. 

The Inspiring Fratton Awards is a means to celebrate the actions of those who make the area what it is and an opportunity for the local community to recognise talent and commitment in their area.”

The initiative was the brain-child a group of local people who met with Mr Morgan to see how aspirations could be raised in the area.

There are a number of categories in the awards process to reflect the cross-section of the ward and to encourage a range of people to be given the opportunity to be recognised. 

Mr Morgan has said:

“I never thought I boy from Fratton could one day represent the city he loves in Parliament. Not a day goes by when I don’t pinch myself about that opportunity and privilege. So my message to every person, and especially all young people in Fratton, is this: aim high, work hard, and you will achieve.

I hope these awards in partnership with the fantastic team at Fratton Big Local show that where you are born, shouldn’t determine where you end up in life”.

If you think you know someone who makes Fratton shine a bit brighter, please nominate using the following link: 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8W2CQKH

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‘Be proud and be you’ says city MP at Portsmouth Pride

The fifth Portsmouth Pride took place at Castle Field today – Saturday 22 June. Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan, who sponsored the event and spoke on the main stage following a parade along Southsea seafront, gave the people of the city a message of ‘working together to create a place where no one has to hide who they are, or who they love’

The event, organised entirely by local people as volunteers, has gone from strength to strength, saw thousands of people flock to the seafront to share in the celebrations with the LGBT+ community. 

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth Pride is a vital celebration of our city’s vibrancy and diversity. It is fantastic to see the event open to all go from strength to strength. 

The celebrations also showcase the city’s ability of local people coming together to volunteer and put on a large-scaleevent.”

In addition to speaking on the main stage and sponsoring Portsmouth Pride, Mr Morgan has hosted a variety of pre-Pride events to promote the day of celebration including the volunteer organisers and sponsors. 

While Portsmouth Pride is about the celebration of the LGBT+ community, the city MP also emphasised the additional need for the events to take place due to the recent rise in hate crimes. 

Mr Morgan has said: 

“This event is not just a celebration, it is a show of unity and force in the face of oppression. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community have risen by nearly 150%, we have seen vicious attacks in London over the past few weeks and people spouting hate speech outside schools is commonplace. 

We must not forget how these Pride marches started nearly 50 years ago in Manhattan. They were a reaction to years of hatred, ignorance and oppression.

We owe it to those who marched all those years ago and made such immense sacrifices to ensure that the society we create is fairer and freer.

In response to this recent spate in hate crime, Mr Morgan set up a public stall at Portsmouth Pride where attendees were invited to sign a postcard to the Home Secretary to urge him to tackle hate crime. 

The action follows Mr Morgan raising concerns directly with the Home Secretary in Parliament, writing to the Minister responsible and called on local police and crime commissioner to outline his strategy. 

Concluding his speech, the City MP said:

At a time of such division in our country and hate in our nation we owe it to those brave people 50 years ago to pick up the baton, protect the rights our predecessors afford us today and to continue this fight for justice.

We owe it to the next generations to create a society that is tolerant and fosters a culture of acceptance.

I am proud Portsmouth is a not a place for hate, but a place of hope for a better future. So let’s continue to work together to create a city where no one has to hide who they are, or who they love.

My message to every single one of you today is simple: Always remember be proud, and be you.

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Local MP and Pompey Pensioners join forces over Government’s snatching of free TV licence

Portsmouth Pensioners Association and Stephen Morgan MP have joined forces in a bid to urge the Government to reconsider their decision to means test TV Licences for over-75s.

The decision to co-sign a letter to the Prime Minister follows a long running local campaign pioneered by Mr Morgan and was agreed to at a roundtable discussion hosted in the MP’s constituency office.

Mr Morgan said:

“It is essential the Prime Minister listens to those who are most affected by this regressive and unjust policy U-turn. The Government decision to remove the universally free TV licence for over-75s will have devastating effects on social isolation and loneliness. 

I hope that in sending this joint letter with Portsmouth Pensioners Association, the Prime Minister understands the gravity of these changes for over-75s and hastily realises that broadcasting organisations should not be responsible for distributing benefits.”

Dr Alan Burnett, President of Portsmouth Pensioners Association has said:

“The decision to remove the universally free TV licence for over-75s will have real consequences for some over-75s in Portsmouth. The orientation around Pension Credit means that these changes will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.

I am delighted that Stephen Morgan MP continues to raise this issue in Parliament and the constituency, I look forward to our continued co-operation on this matter.”

Hundreds of Portsmouth Pensioners have expressed their outrage at this Government decision, with many of them writing in to the MP’s office to share their personal stories. The fact that 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not claim means that many of society’s most vulnerable people will lose their one connection with the outside world.

 The Portsmouth MP has said:

 “I am committed to continuing to work with organisations like Age UK, Portsmouth Pensioners Association and others in a bid to make the government see sense and uphold their 2017 manifesto pledge.

Many people in our communities and across the nation battle social isolation and loneliness. For many in our city the TV is their friend. Saving the current scheme would mean so much to so many older people in Portsmouth.”

The Joint letter concluded with a final plea to the Prime Minister to safeguard benefits for over-75s:

“We jointly call on you to show leadership and in one of your final acts as Prime Minister, commit to your Government taking back responsibility for this social benefit. 

Please honour your party’s manifesto pledge, listen to what Portsmouth pensioners have to say, and maintain the free TV licence for over-75s.”

 

 

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50 years on: let’s pick up the baton and promote principles of unity, togetherness and Pride

Tonight Portsmouth people came together to pay tribute to those who fought for the equality and rights we enjoy today. The event was organised by the fantastic team of volunteers behind Portsmouth Pride this Saturday.

The candlelit vigil took place in Guildhall Square this evening and marked 50 years since the Stonewall Riots that led to the first ever pride protest in New York.

Stephen Morgan MP was unable to attend as was on parliamentary business, but Cllr George Fielding read the following statement of support from the Portsmouth South MP:

Despite the fact that the Stonewall riots took place nearly 50 years ago, the actions of those brave people still resonate here in Portsmouth today and have come to shape the modern fight for LGBT+ rights. 

We owe a great debt to those, who in the face of the greatest adversity, stood strong and fought hatred and oppression in the name of equality and justice.

Without the trailblazing spirit displayed by those during the Stonewall riots the great strides that we have made over the past 50 years would not have been possible. We must ensure that they are commended for these bold actions.

While we must celebrate what has been achieved so far, we must all agree there is still progress to be made. The rate of LGBT+ hate crime is up by 144%.

We here in Portsmouth must take inspiration from those who came before us in this battle for equality and do everything in our power to rid our society of this kind of behaviour.

The greatest tribute we can pay to those who took part in the Stonewall riots is to pick up the baton and promote principles of unity, togetherness and of course, Pride“.

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Portsmouth MP joins call on PM to leave ‘parting gift’ for children’s services

Stephen Morgan MP and sixty-five MPs and councillors – representing areas that have faced some of the deepest cuts to local government funding in the country – have backed a call and signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for urgent investment in young people.

The letter – which was hand-delivered to Downing Street today and signed by MPs and councillors from across England – claimed those from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular were paying a heavy price for austerity and demanded that Theresa May use her last weeks in office to leave a parting gift for children’s services.

Spearheaded by the interest group SIGOMA the action has the support of Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP along with a number of opposition MPs.

Signatories are urging the Prime Minister to address the £8bn funding gap which councils continue to face by 2025, and to use her remaining time in office to deliver a parting gift aimed at supporting social mobility, which Theresa May has been reportedly considering.

MPs from SIGOMA areas represent some of the most deprived communities in the UK. In these constituencies, the effect of cuts to council services has meant many councils have had no choice but to cut services at every level, including libraries, youth services and community centres.

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Local councils, like our own, are on the frontline of government, delivering the services which people rely on and which both support and enrich our communities on a day-to-day basis.

By 2020, local authorities will have faced a reduction to core funding from the Government of nearly £16 billion since 2010. That means that councils will have lost 60 pence out of every £1 the Government had provided to spend on local services. Next year, 168 councils will receive no more core central government funding at all.

This is having a drastic impact on local government services across the country, and in our city of Portsmouth.

It was important to sign this letter with colleagues in response to concerns being raised with me about the wider pressure that central government is putting on local councils to deliver vital services without adequate funding, as a result of cuts.

By working together with other parliamentarians and councillors, I hope the Prime Minister will finally recognise that the Tories’ cuts to local government are deeply unfair and takes action”.

Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, Chair of SIGOMA, the voice of England’s towns and cities added:

“The cuts have been unfairly applied to local government for years, with those representing the poorest communities facing cuts twice as deep as those serving the most affluent areas.

We are marching to Downing Street today to highlight the severe impacts austerity is having on some of the most vulnerable in society, taking opportunities away from those that need them most. We urge the Prime Minister to use her remaining time in office to leave a parting gift of £3.1bn to plug the existing funding gap in children’s services and to give council leaders the flexibility to invest in social mobility. Young people must no longer pay the price for austerity and now is the time to cut the cuts.

This cause has attracted support from around the country. Week after week this year we have heard stories and reports about the impact of deprivation on the life chances of young people.

The Prime Minister has the chance to be remembered for something other than the divisive topic of Brexit but she must act now.”

MPs from SIGOMA areas represent some of the most deprived communities in the UK. In these constituencies, the effect of cuts to council services has meant many councils have had no choice but to cut services at every level, including libraries, youth services and community centres.

The Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities is the voice of England’s towns and cities, representing 47 Unitary councils and Metropolitan Boroughs outside London.